How Long Can You Wait to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Anyone who has lost a loved one knows how heavily it can weigh upon one’s shoulders. When that loved one’s death was caused by a negligent party, it can be all the more difficult to cope. While the law does recognize this hardship and the fact that bereaved individuals need time to bring forth a claim, it only allows them so much time to do so.
Defining Wrongful Death
First, it is important to note that the law refers to any death that was caused by the negligent actions of another, whether intentional or unintentional, as a “wrongful death.”
There is no way that monetary compensation can make up for the loss of a loved one, but holding the negligent party financially and legally liable is the only recompense that the justice system can offer. Therefore, the loved ones of the decedent who have incurred economic or non-economic damages (i.e. experienced additional losses that are of a financial or emotional/psychological nature) because of the death can pursue the recovery of those damages through a claim.
Statutes of Limitations for Wrongful Death
As mentioned, all cases — including those concerning the loss of a life — are subject to deadlines. In legalese, these deadlines are referred to as the “statute of limitations.”
Throughout the United States, statutes of limitations for wrongful death lawsuits range anywhere from one to three years from the date of death; for bereaved families in California, the statute of limitations is only two years. No matter what state you are in, any legal claim filed after the statute of limitations expires will be considered invalid in the eyes of the law and, therefore, legal recourse becomes impossible.
When Do I Need a Lawyer?
For wrongful death lawsuits, it is crucial to contact a lawyer as soon after the death as you can. Californians may think that two years is a far-off deadline, but building a strong, comprehensive claim takes time and should not be rushed. The last thing you want to do is let the statute of limitations run out because you started the process too late.
Moreover, these cases are considered complex because they involve someone or some company taking responsibility for the death of a person. With such high stakes, claim preparation is likely to include an in-depth investigation into the accident and even into the death itself. Your lawyer may need to consult experts in other fields related to the case, such as auto engineers for cases concerning traffic collisions.
Have You Been Bereaved by the Actions of Another?
At the Law Office of Marshall Silberberg, we understand how difficult it can be to take legal action when you are grieving the tragic death of a family member, spouse, child, or another person close to you. Our attorneys want to lift some of this weight off your shoulders by pursuing a legal claim on your behalf. We have the experience and skills to help you win justice without creating a legal burden for you to bear. Let us help you fight for accountability and closure.
To speak with a compassionate attorney in Orange County, call the Law Office of Marshall Silberberg at (949) 565-4281 today or fill out an online form.